Brazil is not perhaps the place you would immediately think of when searching for hopeful stories of helping drug users break their habit, but whilst recently visiting our partner laboratory in São Paulo, Brazil – ChromaTox, I came across an interesting and (for once) positive story about action to address drug use.
With Maristela Andraus, the MD of ChromaTox, we met Dr. Marcelo Ribeiro the Director of the Reference Centre for Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs (CRATOD) – a drug rehabilitation centre, sponsored by the São Paulo State Government, Brazil.
CRATOD aims to co-ordinate and implement public policies related to health promotion, prevention and treatment of disorders resulting from the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, in the State of São Paulo. It provides semi-intensive non-hospital treatment for people suffering from disorders arising from the use of alcohol and other drugs, to users residing in the neighbourhoods of the Centre.
Dr. Ribeiro explained that in spite of the difficulties of lack of beds and funding to provide services to the huge numbers of people in need of treatment, the Centre has achieved some positive results. It is situated in an area in the city of São Paulo where hundreds of crack cocaine users used to “stay” and live in precarious conditions,which was notorious across the city for being the centre for crack cocaine users – “Cracolandia” in Portuguese. Due to their work, not only have drug users lives been turned round, but it and is relatively safer to go there now too. They provide minimum standards of accommodation and other basic conditions like a shower to enable drug users to begin their lives anew, find work etc.. The service is provided on the condition that they remain drug free. It was heartening to see progress being made in helping people to deal with such problems.
Another development we have been involved in recently with Dr. Ribeiro and collaborators at UNIAD (Unidade de Pesquisa em Alcool e Drogas) involved the use of hair samples to monitor and confirm that crack cocaine had stopped after started treatment. (click the link below for more information). We presented the paper at the 19th Meeting of the Society of Hair Testing – SoHT in Bordeaux in June 2104. The results of the analysis of hair samples for drugs helped to confirmed that crack cocaine had stopped after started treatment. An interesting information we found when discussing the data with Dr. Ribeiro, was the results of the hair analysis confirmed that crack cocaine users do not usually use cannabis.
These initiatives show that some progress is being made despite the scale of the problem. Sometimes it seems we only hear bad news stories about drugs and drug users. It’s good to know that there are people committed to improving the situation – and having some success too!
SoHT 2014 BORDEAUX-abstract-Andraus